As you have probably already figured out by reading my reviews, we like Mexican food. Truth is, my husband really likes Mexican food so he wants that cuisine about 80% of the time we choose to dine out. Well folks, tonight I won the decision! I have been drooling over the scrumptious photos from The Joy Luck and was anxious to experience those Asian flavors.
The Joy Luck is located on Bardstown Road right across from Baxter Theater. In fact, that’s precisely where we parked. It was a nice night but a little too cool to enjoy the alfresco dining on their adorable patio area. The interior of the restaurant is nicely appointed with cool hanging lights, large dramatic art pieces, and contemporary chairs. If you look to your left when you enter, there is the cutest, coziest little seating area with a view of the street. I really wanted to sit there but another couple had already snagged it.
I have no complaints about the service except that our guy recommended the most expensive dish on the menu (the Beijing roast duck) and the seafood casserole which (spoiler alert) left me sadly disappointed.
But this is the beginning of our meal and I was excited about trying something new. My first instinct was to order the orange chicken. My husband was fairly determined to get some sort of duck. We took our time reviewing the menu and decided to begin with an appetizer of pork dumplings. Given two choices, steamed or pan fried, we chose the latter and I’m glad we did. One side of the dumpling was tender and forgiving to the fork while the other side was golden-brown and slightly crispy. The well-seasoned tender pork filling was delicious.
After asking our server for the fateful recommendations, my husband goes with the Beijing Roast Duck for $26. Purportedly one of the most popular menu items, the “best part of the duck” is served with fluffy pancakes and accompaniments. The dish was beautifully presented on a wooden cutting board made by Boos. Four fluffy pancakes stacked with tender sliced duck, crunchy shredded vegetable, and hoisin sauce. They were like puffy Asian tacos. A delicate rose fashioned from a cousin of the radish (?) and vermicelli-style carrot provided the garnish. I definitely give them an A for visual impact. I stole one taste and decided it didn’t excite me. Husband really enjoyed his food, although he felt the price tag was a little too steep for the product.
I, unfortunately, succumbed to our server’s recommendation for the seafood casserole which was probably the second most expensive menu item (on the newly revised menu it is listed as “market price”). Honestly, it sounded good to me. Mussels, shrimp, scallops, veggies, and curry. I love all those components so, why not? I’ll tell you why not. It was freakin’ HOT. Not spicy hot, although it had enough heat to keep things interesting. It was temperature hot like the depths of hell. It was so hot, I burnt my mouth on the first bite and tried my darndest not to spit it right back out like Sandra Bullock does with the foul, low-fat hot chocolate the soon-to-be Miss United States serves her in Miss Congeniality. (do you have the visual?) It was so hot, it completely overcooked the delicate seafood and melted the veggies. The snow peas were limp as noodles after spending a little time in the Hades Hot Tub of Curry. I couldn’t have been more disappointed. I paid a lot of money for four or five medium-sized shrimp that survived the boiling cauldron fairly well, a few small bay scallops that were on the verge of rubbery, a half dozen mussels that had crossed over completely to rubber, and various overcooked vegetables. The flavor of the broth could be described as scalding.
I really regretted not going with the orange chicken.
This brings me to a philosophical thought. What does one do in a situation like that? On one hand, I could have told our server that my food was insanely hot resulting in overcooked everything and they may have offered to redo it or bring something else or adjust the bill. On the other hand, I chose to accept my fate based on the choice I made when I ordered. I don’t want to be perceived as trying to get a free meal or being a “complainer”. In my opinion, the error was in the preparation therefore I should have been able to ask them to rectify it without feeling guilty or shameful (right?) but when in that situation, I feel guilty and shameful anyway. What would you do?
I would like to go back and give it another try if I can ever again talk my husband into eating something other than Mexican. Or a cheeseburger.
I give The Joy Luck two out of five for this experience.
The Joy Luck
1285 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40204